Monday, August 31, 2009

Vegan Waffles

Maybe I should have named this blog "I'm always hungry!"--seriously! I would guess most of us with a food blog are of the same school. Anywho, this weekend, it was just gorgeous! The dining took place outside for most meals. As you can see, we had some sad faces staring at us. To me, nothing says Sunday morning like waffles. And I happen to have a wonderful cookbook to inspire me: Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Look at the perfection my little WM purchase gives me! These freeze superbly--so I can have them the rest of the week. *Blueberries are a must!

Vegan Waffles

2 cups soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon corn starch

Put all wet ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Then add all dry ingredients, mix well.
*A good thing to do is to put this mix in the fridge for about five minutes before filling the waffle iron. Also, remember to brush your iron with canola oil. Use your manufacturer's directions for proper time and temperature.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Amazing Vegan Brownies

In keeping with my comfort foods (I know some are saying, girlfriend you JUST made cookies for crying out loud) well . . . yesterday I craved brownies! I think desserts should be mandatory for all dinners. A cookie, a scoop of soy ice cream, a piece of cake, a slice of pie, a brownie, a banana with peanut butter--it does not matter. For me, nothing rounds out a day better than, after a great meal, having dessert. I have never been on a diet. Not that I don't sometimes have to ramp up the running/exercising to compensate for the calories--sometimes I do. Hey, I'm not a small woman, I am tall, and unlike some on these crazy tv ads: "I was a size 10, now I'm a size 4"--what the heck, when did a size 10 become a "large" size--oh please! Anyhow, for me, the key is in the amount of calories coming in being balanced with calories expended out. BTW, eating the brownie itself counts as a "calorie expended" too! Yes, I made delicious Amaranth Ginger Shortbread cookies two nights ago--a little something for the cookie jar. . . a little something for the cake plate, too! These brownies are just the right amount--not your 9x13 pan of them, but rather an 9" square pan. Just enough to get us through the weekend. I can make these last for a week keeping them in a container in the fridge. To me, they actually taste better the older they are. If you are chocolate averse, well, I am sorry for you. If not, you will love these! I topped mine with ganache--mmmmmm.

Amazing Vegan Brownies
1 1/8 cup cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli unsweetened) *1/8 cup is half of a 1/4 cup
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder *1/8 teaspoon is half of 1/4 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon *optional
1 1/2 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer
1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup water
3/4 cup soy milk
1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup canola oil
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup Sucanat or Florida Crystals (try to get the Sucanat)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup cocoa
3 tablespoons arrowroot
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9" baking pan. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix by hand the wet ingredients until smooth. Add wet ingredients to dry. Mix by hand--there may be a few lumps, that's ok. Fold in the mini chips. Pour into baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs on it--don't overbake. You will have a dense brownie--with a moist crumb.

For ganache, add all ingredients to a saucepan. Mix well over medium heat. Keep stirring but do not let come to a boil. Turn off heat as mixture begins to thicken. While mixture is still warm, pour over warm brownies and set aside. Let brownies cool. Slice and serve!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vegan Mock Chicken Pot Pie

I had a chance to visit Amish country in Indiana when I was young--more than once. My mom loved the Amish, their lifestyle, their traditions and their recipes. I inherited several of her Amish cookbooks--in particular, Marcia Adams, who is well known for her appreciation of the Midwest as well as for her Amish cooking recipes she shares. If you're reading this and freaking out because I mentioned one of the most meat-laden cooking traditions in the country--well, you need to simmer down because this is about keeping traditions sans the meat. Good food is good food. Period. You know what I'm talking about, too. Sometimes it takes more than a village to feed a vegan. I am a Midwest girl. I was raised on lots of things that I would not eat today--i.e., pork steaks. However, I also know that it is just fine to still yearn for some comfort foods--and I do! I cannot live on bean sprouts alone! So, here we have a new creation. A wonderful, homey food derived from the old cooking school, but given a new twist to meet my current vegan life.
As you know, most would make a pot pie with a shredded rotisserie chicken--obviously, not here. I really wanted a flavorful protein to add to my pot pie: tempeh. What I remember about pot pies was that there was generally two schools of thought when I ate them as a kid. One was the runny, bland, flour-water tasting pie. The other was a thick, raw-veggie tasting with too many diced carrots undercooked variety. I wanted none of that. I roasted half of my vegetables to enhance the flavor of the baked pie. Many recipes will have you saute the veggies, then plop into the casserole. I think a bit more prep on the front end offers a much more flavored pot pie, melding several layers of textures, and slightly seasoned (the roasting offers a whole range of flavoring in and of itself). This would be a great Sunday dinner! Or a great weeknight dinner with a bit of forethought. It was wonderful! We both enjoyed this meal immensely!
Vegan Mock Chicken Pot Pie
1 package of tempeh
1 roll of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry thawed
4 cups water or half veggie stock and water
1 large onion--half of it diced, half of it chopped
2 carrots sliced on the diagonal
2 cloves of garlic peeled and left whole
2 yukon gold potatoes chopped
1 red pepper chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Spike or Mrs. Dash
Braggs Liquid Amino Acid
hot sauce
fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 celery stalks sliced thin
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup sliced portobello mushrooms
1/3 cup white cooking wine
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup soy creamer
2 cups unsweetened soy milk
fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon tarragon

Unwrap a single puff pastry and thaw according to package directions. Slice the tempeh in half and then into 1/2 inch lengths. Place tempeh in pot of water and bring to a boil--then reduce heat to medium boil for about 15 minutes. Drain and slice into 1/4 in cubes--place into a bowl and sprinkle a bit of Braggs Liquid Amino Acid on it, a shake of bit of hot sauce over it and then add 2 tablespoons of canola oil--cover and shake well, set aside. Preheat oven to 425. Oil a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Place the chopped vegetables (red pepper, potato, 1/2 diced onion, garlic) in a large bowl. Add olive oil and seasonings and toss to coat. Place vegetables on baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the other half of the onion, celery, and saute for 5 minutes. Then add portobello mushrooms and diced tempeh and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the frozen peas. Next, add the cooking wine, soy creamer, soy milk and flour and seasonings. Stir and bring to a medium high heat, and the mixture should begin to thicken--in about 3 minutes. Add the roasted vegetables to this mixture and toss well to coat. If the mixture seems too thick and needs more milk, add in small increments--according to your own liking. But don't let it be too "wet" when you pour it into the casserole dish. Unroll the puff pastry and lay over the veggies--slice several holes into the top--about four lines to let steam escape during baking. Brush the pastry with a bit of soy milk. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove and let cool for about 10-15 minutes. Scoop out with spoon and serve--be sure to give each plate some of that yummy puff pastry!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Amaranth Ginger Shortbread Cookies

Maybe the power going out yesterday left me yearning for my oven--for something fragrant, sweet and warm, oh and my cookie cutters! Amaranth. New to me. Probably new to a lot of people. However, after baking these--this new ground grain is a wonderful addition to my home--the scent wafting through the house while these cookies baked was very woody and crisp. My research on amaranth has said that it adds protein to baked goods--about 4 grams, that you can add it to most baked goods in 1/4 cup increments--(not allowing it to overpower) plus note that it has no gluten. So, I made some really good cookies tonight--I taste-tested four of them! These lovely gems were inspired by: Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson (I want to ask her if she is related to the Swanson TV dinner dynasty!). I will be taking a cooking class over the weekend re-creating several of her recipes--I can hardly wait! A cup of soy milk with these nicely rounds out the flavor and makes your tummy feel good!

Amaranth Ginger Shortbread Cookies
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 cup unsalted butter (Earth Balance sticks)
2/3 cup Florida Crystals Sugar
1/3 cup crystallized ginger minced

Pick out the cookie-cutter shape you want! In a food processor, cream the butter with the sugar. Put dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk. Then add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar, pulse a few times--don't over mix, just use the pulse button. Then add the crystallized ginger, pulse a few more times. Shape the dough into a disc, place in fridge for about 15 minutes. Meantime, preheat oven to 350. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Roll out dough into about 1/4" thick--cut into the shape you desire--or use a round tea cup to cut out circles. Place the cut-outs in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Remove and bake for 10 minutes--until cookie browns a bit. Remove from oven, let sit for 2 minutes, then place on a cooling rack.

Power Outages And Giving Thanks

So, not cool yesterday when the power went out! Not cool at all. . . This got me thinking about the things we take for granted--like the stove. I have a gas stove. When we house hunted, having gas to cook with was more important than say, having two bathrooms--seriously. I was not cooking on electric. Another thing I am thankful for--my laptop and Wi-Fi--OMG, no internet, say what!? There are no explanations from our electric company for being without power for nearly ten hours--no bad weather yesterday either--and thankfully not 110 degrees with high humidity as it usually is in August in this part of the world. Just a big dose of inconvenience. We do have a generator, and I did have to use the "phone a neighbor" line to get help starting it, but once I did have the thing running in my garage, my other neighbor came knocking and displayed grave concern over this matter. My garage is not connected to the house, but it does have a vent in a breezeway that can suck air in from outside--she did not want to find me dead--that's extremely kind if you ask me. Plus, the "phone a neighbor" thing really was no more than getting muscle here to start the stupid thing--he was helpful, however, upon further reflection and upon considering my refrigerator's contents--there was really no point. So, I unplugged it, set candles out and got my booklite and sat on the deck with the wolf pack and read for a bit. So, the third thing I was thankful for was my "vegan" diet. I am in the middle of an area where, most likely, we are in the minority in terms of our eating preference. I think most of the generators we heard yesterday were hooked up to fridges and freezers with last year's "hunting" reserves. ICK!!! I actually worked with a woman once who, after a few days without power came back to work in tears as they had lost "a thousand dollars" worth of food--just she and her husband! I found that incredible, honestly. But again, we are in a part of the country where "things that live outside in the woods" are fair game for some to serve at the table year round. Double ICK!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Easy-Peasy Kung Pao with Tofu

Real quick post to offer a picture of my veggie prep for this meal tonight--get the knife skills out! I don't know about you, but if I've got a picture in front of me, look out, I'm on it! I love the "ready-and-waiting" part of this dish! Next up, the wok and my baked tofu and cooked rice. Meal ready!

Easy-Peasy Kung Pao with Tofu
1 lb. Extra Firm Tofu
sesame oil
hot sauce
Prepare the rice. I use jasmine rice--easy to prep: 1 cup rice, 1 1/2 cup water--ready in about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400. Drain tofu--squeeze in a paper towel over the sink. Dice it, place it in a bowl and drizzle a bit of each of the seasonings over this, shake it to coat the tofu. Set aside for 30 minutes to marinate. After marinating, place the tofu on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes--until brown. Select your veggies--if you have some Shitakes, add them, they are delicious in this. Be sure to include a tablespoon of minced ginger and minced garlic! Prepare the wok or skillet with peanut oil--about 2 tablespoons. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, saute for about 3 minutes. Add remaining veggies. Add 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, a shot of hot sauce, a tablespoon of Shoyo or low sodium soy sauce. Stirring often. Don't let the veggies get mushy--nothing worse than a mushy stir fry!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Vegan Zucchini Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze

This cake requires extra virgin olive oil as its liquid. You most certainly could experiment and maybe use another citrus flavored olive oil--which would be fantastic--just according to your ability to handle the pucker-ness in flavor--I opted to the plain extra virgin. I was inspired to make this vegan version after seeing this cake in Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma--I heart this book! I bought this last Christmas as a gift to me--there are several amazing recipes--several easily adapted to vegan baking, that is. I love lemon, and I love zucchini--we have no choice in the matter regarding zukes right now--they cover a portion of my kitchen counter space! So zucchini cake it is--no regrets either! Oh, and I'm having a piece now--day two!

Vegan Zucchini Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
3 eggs (use Ener-G Egg Replacer equivalent)
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup grated zucchini (1 large zucchini)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk the Ener-G Egg Replacer with water (for 3 eggs) and set aside. Oil and flour a 10 cup bundt cake pan. Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Beat the sugar, oil and Egg Replacer mix together until light and fluffy--about 4 minutes. Then add vanilla and mix again, scrape down sides. Add dry ingredients a bit at a time until thoroughly combined. Then beat in (on medium speed with a hand blender)--the zucchini until fully incorporated. Pour into prepared pan. (Make sure the top is smoothed out.) Bake for 45-50 minutes. While the cake bakes, make the glaze. Mix all of the ingredients together until smooth. Set aside. This cake will leave a bit of crumb on a toothpick when it is done. I really don't think you can "overcook" it with all of the moisture binding ingredients--but just watch it at the last few minutes--the sides should pull away from the pan. Remove from oven and set on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then, invert the cake pan onto cake dish. Then, immediately begin to brush the glaze on the cake. Use all of the glaze. Set aside to cool completely. As it cools, the glaze will get firmer. I sliced the cake up on the second day and stored it in the fridge in a container and it is still good. I would not keep it longer than a few days in the fridge--if it lasts that long!

Match Meats Vegan Meatloaf and Mashers with Green Beans

I had to have something comforting. Food like this is called for when the days are getting a bit shorter, when your green beans are coming in and you know once the last bean is plucked, winds will pick up and the work in the garden will slowly subside. I will go through a brief period of mourning--very brief, because at about the time my gardening chores dwindle, I will have a fire in the fireplace, yarn on my needles, and hot chocolate before bed--a perfect evening. So, I had been craving the comfort side. Now, like many vegans, I struggle to re-create the meals most missed--not the "meat" part, but the soul-satisfying good grub that were simple, yet very sublime in their reward. I have tried maybe a dozen "vegan" loaf recipes--oats and rice, beans and rice and oats, bread and beans and oats. . . etc.--the list can go on and on. My local Match Meats company has Match Beef--it worked beautifully! You can get this product at Dierberg's or Whole Foods. My husband was won over--this is a recipe you can re-create quite easily. I won't give up on the creative side of trying different sorts of "loaf" iterations, however, for my go-to one, this is it!

Match Meats Vegan Meatloaf
2 tablespoons olive oil or safflower oil
1/2 onion diced
1 medium green pepper diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon Spike or Mrs. Dash
fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
dash of hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoon brown sugar
dash of hot sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Take a cookie sheet or baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Thaw the Match Meat Beef package out. Then place in a bowl. Mash it up a bit to loosen the product. Heat 2 T. of oil in a medium pan. Add onions, garlic, pepper and saute for about three minutes. (Still want them crispy). Then add veggies to bowl with Match Meats. Mix well. Then add the seasonings. (You may want to add a teaspoon of oil to the mixture). Take and place on baking sheet, forming a loaf. Spread the glaze over and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes. let cool for about 5 minutes, then slice and serve!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Frito-Craving Vegan Mexican Casserole

Women all over the world know what I mean when I say, "I just have to have THAT!" I had to drop my plans for dinner last night around four after catching a glimpse of what looked to me like the perfect combo for dinner--Fritos on the menu! I am not a junk food queen by any stretch of the imagination, however, I am very, very easily persuaded--especially when it comes to visual cues. (My husband--who is in marketing--said I was a perfect specimen for people in his line of work, albeit a bit "too" easily swayed). I mean, there are two comedy series for which I can honestly say that their subliminal cues for food (or the actual eating scenes) were so overwhelming that at one point I found myself in the kitchen at eight in the evening making cookies, and THEN, having a bowl of popcorn! Uh, Seinfeld and King of Queens--I love both--if I ever come down with cancer, godforbid, please just plop me up in front of the tv and let me sit from beginning to end and watch back-to-back episodes! The laughing will cure me, and the food I want from watching in the meantime, will certainly keep the weight loss issue at bay! So, at the last minute I come across this dish, think, ummm, how yummy would Fritos be right now. . .
got in my car--it is now 4:30 (absolutely the WORST time to go to the store)--but took my ingredient list with me and came home ready to score a good, spicy dish. You see me making a lot of casserole type of dishes, that is because up North where I am from, nine times out of ten from say, October through early May, there is something in the oven--plus it warms the house--and everything smells so good.

Frito-Craving Mexican Casserole
1 bag soy crumbles
about 18 small corn tortillas
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 large onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 green pepper diced
1 stick celery diced
1 zucchini diced
1 can pinto beans drained and rinsed
1 can sliced black olives drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1/2 tablespoon dried cilantro
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
dash of cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tomato diced
1 can of diced green chiles
1/2 avacado diced
1 can enchilada sauce (red works well)
2 cups shredded soy pepper jack cheese
1 bag of Fritos--about two cups crushed and set aside in a bowl

Preheat oven to 375. Oil a casserole dish--I used one size down from 9 x 13. Warm a large skillet with the oil. Add onion, garlic and pepper, saute for about four minutes. Add the remaining ingredients up to the tomato (save that for topping!). Cook for about ten minutes--or less if you are pressed for time. For the casserole: layer of red sauce, six tortillas, then veggie mixture, then a half cup of cheese--repeat. In between layers, spread some of the green chiles around. End with a layer of tortillas, spreading some sauce on top, crumbled cheese and olives spread over the top. Bake uncovered for about 18 minutes. Remove from oven and add crushed Fritos--eyeball it, if you want more--help yourself! Bake another 10 minutes. I served mine with sliced avacado and diced tomato and my favorite, a dollop of Tofutti sour cream!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vegan Zucchini Bread

I swear I only planted three little seeds, dug a little hole in the corner of my little garden. And, from the minute those gigantic leaves started showing up, my zucchini came along at a rate that I can hardly manage--all of this with three seeds! This plant needs very little maintenance--just a spot in the corner somewhere--getting at least six hours of sunshine. That's cool with me because from a high maintenance standpoint--I prefer my veggies to be a little independent. For the past month, I have tried to sneak the vegetable into every meal we have, in some way, shape or form. I can get by with a few tricks, but the most loved use is in bread! I love baking bread--and sharing it, too! I have shredded several bags of zucchini for use this winter--plus I sliced it into 1/2" rounds and froze some that way, too. I figure it is meant to be eaten in large quantities, and that our bodies must require it now more than say, in February--just try finding a good zuke then. So we eat now what we have. This recipe is a moist and a very tasty treat. I used a large zuke--it was about 2 feet long--and yet, had some left over! This bread freezes well, too!

Vegan Zucchini Bread *(makes 3 loaves)
6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 teaspoons cinnamon
6 eggs (use Ener-G Egg Replacer)
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups canola oil
5 cups unpeeled zucchini shredded
1 cup mini chocolate chips
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup of flavored oil (lemon, walnut, orange, hazelnut)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray three large loaf pans (9 x 5 x 3) or 6 small pans. Mix the Ener-G Egg Replacer together with water for the egg amount. Whisk it really well--then set aside. Shred the zucchini and set aside. In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. In another large bowl, add sugar and oil. Mix well--I use a hand blender for this. Then, add the Ener-G Egg Replacer to this. Add vanilla and zucchini--this time, mix by hand. Scoop the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients about a cup at a time, mixing by hand until incorporated--don't over mix this or the bread will not be moist. Once the dry has been added to wet, fold in the mini chips and the 1/4 cup of your flavored oil. I think it is totally up to you--but my preference is orange. Bake for about 50 minutes--depending upon the heat of your oven. Test doneness of bread by sticking the tip of a knife all the way in--if it comes out clean, you can call that done--if it has a bit of crumb on it--even better--remove it then. I like a little crumb to stick to the knife--makes a moist loaf. Let cool then turn out of pan and wrap it and keep it in the fridge or freeze.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Risotto Vegan Crab Cakes and Arugula Salad

I have a new friend--expanded cable tv! Welcome to the world! When you sign up for cable of any kind they ask what channel you are interested in? I said, Food Network, and PBS Create, oh and Syfy (for hubby). Now, if we could stay with just those, we'd be set. You can't. We have all of the 100s and some other stuff that I have yet to explore. But yesterday I caught a Barefoot Contessa episode (she is just great--heavy on the meat, but she has a lot to offer)--she made "chive risotto cakes". Looked yummy, but would not be enough for a good dinner. So, I got to thinking about what might make this more filling. Hello crab cakes! I spent a good deal of time in Baltimore and Boston in my previous life. I ate my share of crab cakes--it was inevitable and with a Legal Seafood on every corner, you could hardly NOT (I was not vegan at the time). I loved them! I love this new version I created. I also have an invasion of arugula in my garden--this has got to be the easiest leaf lettuce to grow in the world! I started it from seed, too. It just does not quit--like Swiss chard and my zucchini.

Risotto Vegan Crab Cakes
3 cups water
1 cup aborio rice
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon olive oil

Cook rice in water for 20 minutes--medium heat--stir occasionally, rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Veggie Mix
3 tablespoons safflower or olive oil
1/2 of small onion diced
1/4 cup celery diced
1/4 cup carrot diced
1/4 cup red pepper diced
2 cloves garlic minced or chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon
Ener-G Egg Replacer
2 tablespoons warm water
1 sheet Nori Sushi crumbled
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/3 cup vegan mayo
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
dash of cayenne

Heat oil in small pan. Add onions, celery, carrots, garlic and mix well cooking for about three minutes (don't over cook!). Place the cooked rice in a large bowl. Whisk 1 1/2 teaspoon of Ener-G Egg Replacer with 2 tablespoons of warm water--set aside. Take cooked veggie mixture and add to cooked rice. Add crumbled sushi roll and remaining ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate for up to an hour--the longer, the better.
Simple Sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons vegan mayo
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons wasabi mustard
chopped chives
Whisk all ingredients well--taste for heat. Add more hot sauce or cayenne if needed.

Chopped Arugula Salad and Basil Pesto
2 cups basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 large cloves garlic
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil plus 1 tablespoon drizzled in
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 tomato sliced
1 jar artichokes

Place basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil in food processor and blend until nearly smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Rinse arugula leaves under water, and use a salad spinner to dry. Spread some leaves out on a plate, adding artichokes and tomatoes. Drizzle the pesto over the plate, plus a drizzle of olive oil.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Grandmother's Muzetti Casserole

I started reminiscing about my grandmother's cooking and had a craving for her pasta dish: Muzetti. Now, I can't tell you whether or not this is a real Italian name or if it was mis-heard by me as a child, or what--for now, we are going with this. My grandma could cook! She was widowed at a young age and left alone to raise my mother (an only child, and sadly, no longer with us today--I really miss her, so don't let me start). So, my grandma was what we might call a socialite today: she held a membership at a country club, belonged to a bridge club, was a grade school teacher--and traveled across the ocean to places like Ireland (I have a picture of her kissing the Blarney Stone!), Wales and England. She helped raise me, greatly influenced me and was incredibly smart and sophisticated. I always remember her with a book in one hand, and a martini in the other, (cigarette burning in the ashtray--I had dibs on the olives). This, like so many dishes back "then" were baked in the oven. And, to get the right flavor and texture, really, in some instances, over baked. This is as close to her dish as I will get (leaving out the chopped red stuff). I think this tastes as good cold as it does warm. My husband and I both enjoyed second helpings.

For really enhancing the flavor, try to hit your farmer's market to get your hands on some really fresh peppers. I stumbled upon "gypsy" peppers this summer and fell in love with them! They are just perfect and have a bit of a pepper kick, too--not hot, just "pepper". I have a picture of them for you.

My Grandmother's Vegan Muzetti

3/4 of a package of shell pastStart pasta cooking, don't over cook as it will be in the oven baking for a bit. Boil for about 6-8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
1/2 red onion sliced
4 cloves garlic crushed
3 bunches of fresh basil chopped
3 stems of fresh oregano chopped
1/4 cup olive oil plus a bit more if needed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons maple syrup
dash of salt and pepper
dash of onion powder
dash of garlic powder
*Optional--3/4 cup soy creamer

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil for about 3 minutes. Add the basil and oregano, vinegar and tomatoes and syrup. Stir well. Set on medium heat and stir every now and then for a total of 40 minutes. Just let the flavors meld and the sauce to thicken a bit. Set aside. Always taste as you go--get the wooden spoon out!

Cooked Veggies

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 gypsy peppers or green bell peppers sliced long
1/2 red onion sliced
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 small can of black olives
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup diced zucchini
2 cups portobello mushrooms sliced thin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese (I used mozzarella flavor)

Preheat oven to 375. Oil a 9 x 13 baking dish. Saute the onions and garlic for about 3 minutes, then add the peppers and zucchini--saute additionally 5 minutes. Add the olives and peas cook for a few more minutes. Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms and place in a small skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute for about ten minutes. (I cooked these separate to keep their flavor and shape in tact, then added them to the toss as I added the cooked veggies.) Place the drained pasta in a large bowl. *Optional--you can now add about a 3/4 cup of soy creamer to the marinara giving this dish a bit of a creamy texture. Add the cooked marinara--toss well to coat. Then add the cooked veggies, stirring well. Pour into baking dish. Spread bread crumbs and cheese over the top. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes--check it as it gets closer to the end. Your call, but I like to have a few pieces of the pasta browned on top. Remove from oven and let cool for about ten minutes and serve!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cool Vegan Curry: Bring It!

If you were a fan of the Gilmore Girls, you may remember the line when Lorelei (the mom) was ordering take-out for the night when Rori (the daughter) said something to the effect of "having to burn the house down after"--well, not my house--we love curry! I cannot tell you the number of times I have lingered in the aisle of my global grocer taking in the smells. I also can tell you that I am the proud owner of such exotic seasonings as cardamom pods and funugreek. (Alright, maybe not exotic to most, but to me, I did not grow up with much beyond ketchup, A-1 and some Season All--thankfully my blood pressure and sugar count are still in check!) If my memory serves, I thought exotic was chop suey, polish sausage or stuffed cabbage--that about does it. Wait, there was my world-traveling maternal grandmother (seriously, she did some major frequent flying--she was a widow at a young age), bless her soul. She made this amazing "muzetti"--if that is not the real name, well. . . I said memory. Anyhow, this rocked my world and it was from this dish of small elbow macaroni, peas, tomato sauce, onion, garlic and celery--and maybe some canned mushrooms and "oleo" baked--of course--until the top pasta part was nice and chewy and a bit crunchy. It was casserole heaven in the 60s, right?--Well, that was my exotic. So, from a young age, the exotic enticed me.

Curry love was on tap last night. I had to rush it, so it is not the kind that Madhur Jaffrey (the queen of Indian cooking to me) would approve, though there is a hefty amount of curry powder(the expensive kind from one of those seasoning stores--it was a Christmas gift, and I love it!). I would love to have an Indian take-out joint here in my small community--but you'd have to fit in between the pizza, taco and dairy/frozen custard dessert joints. This ingredient list looks long--don't let it deter you--just make it--it's a drop and stir kind of dish.

Cool Vegan Curry
1 package seitan or tempeh (if tempeh, dice into small pieces and steam first, if seitan, slice thin)
Noodles or rice--I used spaghetti noodles
1 onion diced
4 garlic cloves minced
1 8 oz. package shitake or portobello mushrooms sliced thin
1 cup water
1 cup regular soy milk (not vanilla!)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup carrot chopped
1 broccoli head chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon Braggs Liquid Aminos
2 tablespoons Shoyu or light soy sauce
1 tomato chopped (reserve some for top)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
dash of cayenne
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (for topping)
Start the rice if using. Otherwise, heat some water for about 4 oz. Heat 2 tablespoons of safflower oil or canola in a medium pan. Add onions, garlic and cook until onion is translucent--about two minutes. Add the seitan or tempeh. (*If you use tempeh, steam it for 10 minutes to get rid of the bitterness). Cook until browning begins on your seitan/tempeh. Stir frequently. Add the rest of the ingredients--liquids through chopped veggies and seasonings. Mix well.
Let simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. Stirring often. Curry is something that you should taste while cooking--use the spoons! Is the heat right, salt right? Let the flavors blend. Serve over the cooked noodles or rice--YUM!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Good Burger

There has been a few challenges to overcome in bringing along some of those "other" foods that, let's say, have a fond place in my heart. Like, a good burger. Or like a good "mock" loaf. Well, and the brownies--still working on that, too. Back to burger-ness. Has the burger-mania with $25 and up price points settled down yet--stuffed, shrunk, smothered and smoked, to name a few--I think not. Sadly, what comes with this is not only un-vegan, and un-healthy, but the ever-growing demand of "more is more, so let's just try it one more way". For vegan burgers, I will say that the attempt the veggie culture has made at creating the perfect burger has been noble. However, these are not always able to keep their shape, or offer great texture (I've had my share of frozen veggie burgers--they work in a pinch). Certainly a little canola in a pan will crisp up anything (but I try not to given my propensity to gain whatever I eat turning into pounds--why I love to run!). I have an old, and I mean old, New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook. It offers an bevvy of 'natural' recipes--even a few loaf recipes. And, a burger or two: avocado, lentil, soy, soy and rice. Hmmmm. Well, jump to this week and my tight schedule. I am helping my good friends with their canines and felines. It's always a pleasure to do so. But I must drive a bit to get there--and it pinches my dinner-planning times. So, "quick", and "on the menu more than once for the week" was a must. Enter the cookbook and wonderful inspiration: You Won't Believe It's Vegan by Lacey Sher and Gail Doherty and the Earth Burger. Wow! We have had this honey for two dinner nights and lunch this week--dressed differently each time. I'm sharing my modified version of this recipe. It really, really worked well, tasted great, had wonderful texture, stood up to more cooking when I turned it into a BBQ burger and was just as yummy cold (an old eating habit, I know, it is so bad!). Accompanying the burgers on this menu were my all-time favorites: coleslaw and roasted garlic smashers--YUM!

The Good Burger
1 block of extra-firm tofu
1 onion chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped
1/2 cup carrots chopped
1/4 cup celery diced
1 cup oats (not steel cut)
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups brown rice (cooked)
1 cup bread crumbs (if you are using the stuff in the container, cut this to 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons parsley (fresh is best)
2 teaspoons Spike or other seasoning
1 tablespoon white miso
3 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon of thyme, oregano, basil (if you have fresh, take two stems and chop up)

Start the rice. Preheat oven to 350. Line one 9 x 13 baking sheet with parchment paper. Prep with 2 cups water and 1 cup rice--follow package directions. Drain the tofu--press between paper towels. Saute the veggies in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Transfer this to a bowl. Then add pressed tofu to the bowl--plus remaining ingredients--including cooked rice. In a food processor, pulse all of the ingredients from the bowl--just until the mixture comes together--not too pasty or you will have "paste". Form into about 3 inch patties or whatever size you desire. I would say try to stay on the small side for baking time. Place burgers on baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, turning the tray during cooking. Let cool a bit. Then top with whatever you'd like!

The Good BBQ Burger

Take your leftover burgers and dress them in BBQ sauce. I just heated about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan and brushed the burgers with this cooked one side, then flipped and brushed the other side--all told, this takes about ten minutes. YUM!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Vegan Un-tuna Salad

So, for starters, let me say that I have always been a skeptic. I mean of everything. However, once you've convinced me or won me over, I am done for good. I think, again, that is from being raised in the North, we are just a harder people to win over. So, when I heard and read the many recipes for the "mock" versions of vegan tuna out there, I just said, hmmm. (Like using tofu for it--um, I don't think so.) Well, we were on leftovers for Sunday--the gazpacho. But it needed something else--besides bread. So, I found a few recipes and thought, well, let's try this tempeh one first. This is the best--I mean, how could I know, I am reluctant to try the others, but honestly, this recipe really was delicious, filling and perfect! Try it if you can! I was inspired to make this recipe from this cookbook--its second mention in my blog: The 30-Minute Vegan by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray. Honestly, I have not had a bad recipe from this book yet!

The Vegan Un-tuna Salad

1 package of tempeh
1 carrot diced
5 dill pickles diced
1/4 of a red onion diced
1 stick of celery diced
2 tablespoon Braggs Liquid Amino Acids
Fresh parsley
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove minced
fresh ground pepper
1 cup vegan mayo
Cut the tempeh into small cubes--like about 1/4 " or smaller. Then place in a steamer basket. Steam it for 10 minutes. Remove and place into a large bowl. Then add remaining ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for an hour if you can. It will taste better! Serve on bread or on a bed of lettuce with your choice of sides. This was yummy!

The Ubiquitous Roasted Veggie Gazpacho

The Ubiquitous Roasted Veggie Gazpacho came about when I stepped outside around one on Saturday and began to sweat immediately. I was just home from a four mile run (had cooled off) and really in no shape to conjur up a creative and oven/stove-heavy meal. However, I was interested in something spicy, and veggie-ish--more fresh than anything else. So, I found my fridge full of fresh zucchini--of course, (will that plant ever go dormant?)--and tomatoes (I really would like these to come in a bit faster, but I am not willing to forgo my organic growing methods)--some red onions (farmer's market) and new peppers from the garden. All of these spoke to me in a form of the ever-famous gazpacho. August seems a bit late to be having this as a meal, after all, we've had the Fake BLT now at least three times! So, I got to work. I heated my oven to 500--yes, you see correctly. But this was for a short roasting time, around 15 minutes--plus my kitchen is old and the house is old, most of the heat stays in the kitchen rather than circulating throughout the house. Here is the skinny on the recipe.

Ubiquitous Roasted Veggie Gazpacho

1 pepper sliced
1 red onion, quartered
10 roma tomatoes, cut in half
2 zucchini--sort of small, but sliced about 3/4" thin
6 cloves of garlic
1 can black beans, drained
1 chopped cucumber
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil (I had some blood orange flavor on hand and added it)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 or 2 tablespoons of hot sauce and extra for passing around

Preheat oven to 500. On the oven grill (that has been oiled), spread out your veggies you desire and roast for about 18 minutes. Be sure to include some garlic cloves--I had six. I also brushed the veggies with olive oil and seasoned them with whatever I had: paprika, cumin, cilantro, Spike. It is up to you. When roasting is complete--dump all of this into a blender and pulse a few times. Your call as to what you'd like, chunky or more smooth. Then dump this mixture into a large bowl and add the remaining ingedients. You can change this up and add corn, too. Keep tasting it. Ifind this recipe is not exact so, please taste test! Chill before eating for optimum flavor. For topping, dice up some avacado and serve with a delicious loaf of bread! Perfect!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Vegan Chocolate Brownies

When the temperature is above, say, eighty, I am in a pretty lousy mood. Just ask my husband. I am not a fan of the south in July or August. But this year, we were lucky in that July was an unusually cool month here in Missouri. I even had guests in my house. I usually never invite people over in July--we miss a lot being reclusive that way. Well, we are paying for last month in spades right now. I am miserable, sad and prone to crying over just about anything. So, we decided it was movie night. Last night we rented Seven Pounds with Will Smith--I don't recommend this if you are in any sort of frame of mind in which your tear ducts are wide open and super-sensitive as mine were. I was just a wreck after watching this! There was not a non-sad moment in the whole thing, seriously. Intensity abounded. I mean, had to get myself to bed at eight and sedated to stop from crying--that's how bad. Why, you ask, did we not just turn off the movie, because, like a train wreck or car accident, you have to see who is alive, who is better in the end. I get the same way with The Wizard of Oz, it is just difficult for me to not be thrown into movies without my full emotional attention joining me. I will tell you this, from an acting point, Will Smith was amazing.I have been his fan since his Fresh Prince days--he was adorable then, and still is today. Lucky for me, I had made these brownies.

Vegan brownies are a challenge for me. I had the perfect, and I do mean perfect brownie recipe:
The Kathryn Hepburn Brownies--google for it. So I have been trying to find the perfect 'vegan' brownie. I don't think I am there yet, but for all who yearn for chocolate when they are depressed, or not, this recipe sufficed. They were inspired by two books: Sinfully Vegan by Lois Dieterly (I know, I was like, 'diet' is part of her name?)--the frosting came from her, the brownie part came from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau--I've mentioned this book before.

Vegan Chocolate Brownies
1 1/2 cup sugar--granulated or Florida Crystals
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons of water
2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup cocoa powder *this is my change to her recipe, I ratcheted up the cocoa a bit
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup mini-chocolate chips *I also changed here using the mini chips vs. the larger ones

Preheat oven to 350. Oil an 8 x 8" baking dish. Mix the flax together with the water. Then mix the remaining wet ingredients together and set aside--adding to the flax mix. Then mix the dry ingredients together. Add dry to wet, mix by hand, just until combined, okay if there are crumbs in it. Pour into baking dish. Watch the time carefully as I baked them a bit under the recommended time--35 minutes and still, they were cakey. So, I'd bake for 25 next time, and check them for my preferred doneness--which is tacky and very moist.

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup canola
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa *again, she says to use 1/6--well, you've seen my profile, I am all about chocolate!
4 tablespoons arrowroot
1/4 cup water

In a small pan over medium heat (but don't bring to a boil)--add the sugar, oil, vanilla an cocoa and arrowroot. Stir constantly. Turn heat on very low, keep stirring--add a bit of water at a time. It will thicken for you. Then, remove from heat and pour on brownies that have cooled at least an hour. The topping will settle down, but after a bit in the fridge.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vegan Jamaican Patties

Today, my water pressure dropped during my tomato watering (first thing this morning). I thought my pipe had busted and I'd find some horrible mess in the basement--not so--apparently someone at the water company fell asleep. Then, my computer was going through a total midlife, re-boot drama causing me to waste an hour of my day. During the hour I was waiting, I wanted to do something constructive with my time, so I thought I'd exercise to my workout dvd, which promptly began, and then, suddenly died--(the screen went blank, but my TV was still on)--my dvd player had just died--with my dvd inside. . . it's not in there anymore! Okay, so I was pretty much spent by then, and it was only eleven! Oh, and could it be the full moon? Then, surprise of surprises, a wonderful book store coupon awaited me in my inbox, which sent me into a happier place and thus, out the door for a little "shopping." Enter my evening meal--straight from this very cool cookbook that is now sitting on my shelf: Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry. I highly recommend this book and, for starters, maybe this recipe (topped with guacamole and hot sauce) accompanied by his coleslaw (add some shredded carrot if you'd like). As a side note, I was fortunate enough to have on hand a head of cabbage and carrots from my good friend's garden.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fast Vegan Gyros with Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Okay, so today the creative cook in me sort of took a holiday. I encountered a "cooking block." So it was the witching hour--around 5:30 p.m., when I finally thought it might be a good idea to get something cracking--welcome to the what-can-I-fit-in-this-tortilla moment. Oh, and there was the trip to Whole Foods today (Whole Paycheck). Anyway, I got some seitan (say-tan) and used it for these gyros--do you say "guyroos", "geeroos" or "jyroos?" We're in the middle of watching "Dead Like Me"--we recommend it. We also recommend "Wonderfalls" and "Pushing Daisies"--we use a lot of Netflix miles. This is a pretty straightforward meal. First toss quartered red or yellow potatoes in about two tablespoons of olive oil. Preheat oven at 450. Line a 9 x 13 cookie sheet or baking sheet with parchment paper. Roast for about 12-14 minutes. Then pick your herbs you'd like to add and: maybe, sundried tomatoes or olives, toss the potatoes again in a separate bowl--spread back on the baking sheet and roast another 10 or 12 minutes.

For the Seitan Gyros

1 package of seitan--thinly sliced

1 onion diced

3 cloves of garlic

1 cucumber chopped

1 tomato chopped

1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped

Saute the onions and garlic and seitan. Let the seitan get a little brown. Add some oregano, cumin and paprika and some kind of salt (I used Spike). Now for the plating. The picture shows how to set this up. Add some sort of cucumber dill sauce or dressing. A quick recipe would be to take 2 tablespoons of vegan mayo, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, a clove of garlic, 1/3 cup of diced cucumber, and about a tablespoon of diced onion, green is fine. Place in a blender. Pulse a few times. If it tastes too lemony, add another tablespoon of vegan mayo.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Southern-Fried Vegan Country Dinner

Vegan Thyme: Southern-Fried Vegan Country Dinner
Okay, so you need to put on some Toby Keith for this and crank it up while you get your grub on. This is the finest from the South--and all veggies from my local farm stands, to boot! This meal received rave reviews from my Irish-rooted potato-lovin' man! You will need a little extra time to work on a few things.

First, drain the block of tofu--extra firm works best. Now, several things about this 'drain the tofu' stuff. It is not a huge task to do this. Just pull it from the container. Press it over the sink with both hands, firmly, but don't let it crumble out from under your fists. That would be a drag. Then, place this brick on say, five sheets of paper towels. On top of this, place another five sheets of paper towels, or use a clean kitchen towel. Then lay a cutting board or heavy bottom pan on top. Set it aside while you get busy with the rest of the fixins. Next, start those potatoes. I bought this yellow kind and just lightly peeled and boiled them till they were soft. Drain them and set aside in the same pot you boiled them in, that way they'll stay warm. Just lightly mash 'em and put a little margerine in with them and season to taste--you are done. Then, I got the green beans going. You know, if you've ever had a church or funeral meal, those cooked-all-day till- they-want-to-curl-around-your-finger kind are what you'd find. I loved those! I simply placed my green beans in veggie broth and let them cook for the full time it took the taters to get mushy. Then I turned down the heat and let them sit covered. Now, as for the corn on the cob, come on, you know you want some! What a cinch it was, just take a corn cob, cut it in half, sit them on a plate together, cover with some clear plastic wrap and zap in the microwave for two minutes. There, you've got the major part of the meal together. Now, make the dredging stuff for the tofu. Let me first tell you, my inspiration for fried tofu came from an amazing little cookbook: Vegan Vittles by Jo Stepaniak. The inspiration for the gravy came from The 30 Minute Vegan by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray (an awesome 'new' vegan cookbook find!--I need to give them some love on amazon--only has 2 reviews so far, but I've tried several dishes and have been impressed!).

Southern-Fried Vegan Country Tofu

1 cup soy milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Mix this in a small bowl and set aside.

Dredging Mix:
1 cup nutritional yeast
In a wide dish--like a casserole dish, add any variation of seasonings to this you'd like, in increments of say, 1 teaspoon for the leafy, dried stuff, to half a teaspoon for the ground stuff. For instance, begin with your powders--onion, garlic, curry, mustard, paprika, cayenne pepper, Spike or Mrs. Dash. Just play with this. But you get the picture. Set aside.

1 cup flour--spelt, or unbleached white
Set aside in a small bowl.
Hemp Seed *optional, but would certainly add some crunch to these, say a 1/3 cup with the flour.

Now, in a pan, add enough oil to cover the bottom--I used canola, but you could use safflower, or sunflower, your choice. Turn the heat on medium low--tofu can splatter when placed in oil, so be careful! Take your drained tofu and slice it horizontally into four equal sizes. Then, cut those into triangles. Dredge in the following manner: First in the milk mixture, then flour, then nutritional yeast mixture. Place in pan with oil. Let cook for about 10 minutes per side on medium heat. Try not to mess with these, they just need to cook! When ready to pull out, set on a plate with paper towels and let drain. I also warmed the oven to place my first batch in there while I worked on the second batch.

The Most Amazing Vegan Shitake Mushroom Gravy
1/3 cup flour--spelt or unbleached white
1/4 cup oil--canola or sunflower
1/2 of yellow onion, sliced as thinly as possible
2 cloves of garlic minced
8 shitake mushroom caps, stems removed, sliced thin
2 1/2 cups veggie stock--low sodium
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons Shoyu sauce
Fresh parsley (about three stems--tips chopped up)
2 teaspoons Spike or Mrs. Dash
Fresh ground pepper

First, make the slurry of flour and oil in a small bowl, set aside. Then, in a medium saucepan, add about a tablespoon of oil, then add onion and garlic and mushrooms. Cook for about ten minutes. Then add the veggie broth, mix this in with a whisk. Then add the nutritional yeast, mix well with a whisk. Turn the heat down a bit and add the rest of the ingredients. Whisk well. Finally, add the slurry flour mixture. Whisk with heat turned down for about a minute, then turn off the heat, the gravy should really thicken up fast.

That's it! Add a little Brooks and Dunn and y'all have yourself a real fine time!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Jellies, Jams, Salsas and The Moon

So this week there is a full moon on Thursday--it is known as the Full Sturgeon Moon--a fish--so for vegans, this may not be our month, have no fear, next month is the Full Corn Moon. I read this on the Farmer's Almanac website: I love that stuff! Things to do in the garden this month--harvest herbs at full moon--they will be more infused with their oils. Plant root veggies after the full moon. I plan on putting out some new seed this coming week--more spinach, lettuce, carrots, cabbage and sugar snap peas.

Things I've noticed around the full moon, besides mood swings--well that could be the age clock thingy going on--hormones and all--nonetheless, the full moon does seem to increase energy levels in all species, especially in wildlife, like seeing more of it. For instance, a deer in the front yard of our neighbor's house at three in the afternoon! I've also noticed rain storms or other turbulent weather changes seem to increase, as well. (My husband thinks not, but I could plot a line on a graph and show that some of the most drastic changes in weather have occur ed around the full moon--including snow storms). Oh, and was there not an earthquake around Baha, CA today? Hmmmm. And my dogs display, shall we say, a more spirited mood. Can dogs have moods, yes, just ask mine.

So with my level of energy increased in correlation to the moon being full, I began my canning escapade again. After my success with the salsa last week, I was ready for more tomatoes, and fruit--marinara, jams and jellies were in order. We visited a farmer's stand on Sunday and I was just sure I'd make it home in time to cook dinner, can some marinara and watch a new DVD. Wrong. I hauled more tomatoes into this house in the last two weeks than I think we've seen in the entire time we've been married. This all owing to my sudden need, urge, want--to eat closer. Meaning, from the earth in my yard, or the earth in my city's yards. Not a new concept, we've all heard about this. But to me, this year has been about turning those places where the grass grows into places where food grows.

I read a wonderful book last month that reinforced my dedication to growing my own food: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver . Before you run out and read it please note, she does discuss the process of raising and eating things other than veggies. I could not read those chapters. (Sort of like with the book, Heat by Bill Buford--lots of non-veggie cooking takes place as it was a memoir of a food experience in a well-known restaurant--I had to skip a lot within that book, too.) But reading is important, and I do a lot of it.

So, here are my latest canning projects. Today it was blackberry jam and concord grape jelly. Plus, in the photo is a jar of my salsa I made last week. Salsa does not stick around long in this house so canning this totally makes sense. The jellies. . . well, I am a peanut butter and jelly freak. What can I say. I have a sandwich of that sort at least once a day--well, maybe a half of one on some days. . . but still. How cool is it that I can just grab my own, and not that other widely known jam label?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Spay and Neuter Your Pets!

This next topic is not my soap box, this is my life. I am involved in animals beyond having my own rescued crew. They are a crew, let me tell you! I am posting pictures for you--two of MP--she is better outside--but I like the one of her by the door--her usual spot! (I have several dogs,) I have a strong opinion about animals--that we should care and love them as they love us: unconditionally. My dogs have saved my life, made my life more full and helped me recover from terrible illness. A friend of mine is the president of an organization that supports spaying and neutering--especially to low-income families--have you priced spaying and neutering lately--it can be expensive, no ding against docs, they have to make money, too. And, where would we be without them to perform the procedure. Operation Stop Pet Overpopulation Today. Their link is in my favorites. If you live in another part of the world and cannot afford to get your pet spay or neutered, please ask your local shelter for information on available options. It is a must that our pets be spay and neutered. I believe strongly that our shelters are riding on the back of irresponsible pet ownership--overbreeding. And, if you have an empty space in your heart, head to the nearest shelter and bring a lonely heart home with you--your reward will be that you will instantly make the world a better place and you will have a companion who will love you: unconditionally. In a few short months, we (OpSpot) will host a fundraiser--the 9th Annual Sweat-4-Pets here in St. Louis--a 5k, 10k, 1 Mile Fun Walk on Sunday, November 8th at Tower Grove Park--registration begins at 8:00 a.m. Please support your animal organizations by remembering to run or walk or attend one of their auctions--it is as important as saving a life.

Roasted 3-Veggie Vegan Lasagna

This lasagna rocks--okay. So make it. It is of the Italian persuasion, those people can cook! I have some Italian in me on my grandfather's side (and Croatian)--nice blend. It comes with a slight temper, so . . . anywho. Fresh basil is in right now, you can go to the farmer's markets and load up on it--do so. Freeze it. Pull it out in December and use it and send me an email thanking me. There is nothing better than that smell in the middle of winter. This looks like a lot of work, but it goes quickly once you get everything in place. It is a good one!

*Use no bake noodles, I mean, honestly, they are so easy--I've also made this with multi layers of Wontons.

Make the Marinara (or your favorite jar of stuff)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion chopped
5 or 6 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 cup fresh basil chopped--use fresh, but if you must use dry, 2 hefty teaspoons should do
1 can tomato sauce
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 3 stalks of fresh from the garden--the leaves are so little
1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1 stalk of fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon sugar
Dash of salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper
In a medium sauce pan, heat the oil, add the onions and garlic. Simmer for about five minutes, don't let the onions or garlic get brown. Then add everything else. Bring to a medium boil--boil for about ten minutes. Then reduce to a simmer, and let simmer (meanwhile making the house smell amazing!)--for about 40 minutes. Just give a stir every now and then. Taste it--I cannot over emphasize this enough. I think it was James Beard who said our taste and our hands are the most important components in cooking, or something like that. Start the lasagna.

The Roasted 3-Veggie Lasagna (or 4 or 5--your pick)
2 zucchini sliced about 1/4 " thick
1 jar roasted red peppers (these appear a lot in my recipes--I just love them!)
4 large cap portobello mushrooms
1 bag or bunch of spinach (try not to use frozen)
1 package soy Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sprinkle of Mrs. Dash or Spike or salt and pepper, your call
1 package no-boil lasagna noodles
1 recipe of bechamel (recipe below)
1 recipe of marinara (recipe above)

Roast your veggies on top of the stove or your favorite grilling method (I have a nifty top-of-stove two-oven burner pan I got from the big WM--it was like twenty bucks--best investment ever, and it is not that cast iron kind, it works just fine). I spray this. Then, add olive oil in a bowl and have a small brush ready to coat the veggies.Prep the veggies, lay out on grill--get the good grill marks on them. The mushrooms will take longer--so maybe watch your heat levels. Save the spinach for layering.
The Tofu Ricotta
1 package firm tofu
*Any combination of Italian seasonings you'd like--a teaspoon dried each: oregano, basil, marjoram
Season salt
Bit of ground fresh pepper

Place in a food processor and mix until mixture is creamy and smooth looking.

The Bechamel (this is extremely easy)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups soy milk
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Heat oil. Add flour--whisk or stir until it looks a bit yellow and a bit creamy. Add soy milk. Add mustard and nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil--don't let it stay at a boil for a long time! Once the boil happens, turn it down and let it simmer, it should be thickening on you. Set aside.

Layering the Lasagna

Preheat oven to 350. Oil a 9 x 13 baking pan. NOTE: On layering lasagna: this is not an exact science so please do not freak out! Just layer baby! As a reference here is the order I did it. Ladle a bit of marinara on the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of noodles. Add a spread of tofu ricotta. Then layer your grilled zucchini. Add a cup of shredded soy cheese. Add another layer of noodles. Add a ladle of marinara. Add a layer of a handful of spinach--fresh, as is, no need to cook it. Add layer of mushrooms. Add layer of noodles. Add a layer of tofu ricotta. Now ladle some of the bechamel in there. Like a cup. Add roasted red peppers--try to spread these veggies out on each of their prospective layers--evenly so the slices each have some of all veggie in it. Add another handful of spinach leaves. Then ladle some more marinara. Add final layer of noodles. Add a ladle of bechamel. Then a ladle of marinara, then layer of shredded cheese on top. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes (the cooling part is critical!). Serve with a nice side salad.


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